April 23rd, 2002


I guess this is terroir?

I've just had a relatively unusual experience. Against my better judgement*, I popped open a bottle of $17 1999 Clonakilla shiraz from the Langhorne Creek district (I guess that's in South Australia). It was... well, distinctly unlike anything else I've ever tasted. It had a completely eccentric taste; the first thing that came to mind was the still fermenting Korean sake I had in Koreatown in Tokyo last year (thanks Hiro!). It was similar in that it had a very strong flavor that seemed hell-bent on being unlike anyone else's wine, and a flavor that might not be very pleasing to most people - it was almost sour, but not unpleasantly so, and smelled/tasted nothing like any other shiraz I've ever drunk. Not only was it beautiful, it was beautiful in a way which was all the more striking due to its solipsism.

In a word, wow. I'll try to take some of this home with me next year, and be sure to drink it out of better glasses than the cheap crappy ones at this hotel - I have to admit, it does help to have a ridiculously big glass that allows you to smell it without running the risk of spilling it on the davenport.

I've also gone completely over the top and picked up a bottle of the $48 2000 Shiraz Viognier, but I don't dare open that just yet. I'm thinking New Caledonia, or, barring that, I'll be sharing it with friends in Sydney, possibly comparing it with the 1996 Cigare from Santa Cruz.

* Dan had bought a bottle of $12 NV Jacob's Creek sparkling wine, which wasn't particularly wonderful, and after that bottle, I thought it would be a bad idea to drink anything else, but now I'm very glad I went against my better judgement.

Vive la France.

You know, it would be, like, rilly helpful if Tahiti and New Caledonia used the euro, but who am I to judge?

Anyhow, I'll be in New Caledonia, eh, Nouvelle-Caledonie or whatever, within 48 hours. Should be interesting. Don't expect any posts for a while, and if I've been sending you postcards, I give myself a 50-50 chance of speaking decent enough French to successfully buy stamps dans la poste or however you say it.

Speaking of stamps, Australia Post could do better. If you're sending a postcard abroad, believe it or not, you pretty much have to buy $1 stamps, which are completely fucking ugly. You can either get a picture of a hill near Canberra (green, ugly, boring, current), or a picture of a hill near Hobart (green, not very dramatic, boring, available as of May 1, I think), and that's it. Why can't you use other stamps? Simple. Other stamps include 10% GST (~ VAT), and if you use those, you have to find $1.10 in stamps to put on your postcard, and that's an unworkable combination of stamps, basically. So, you're stuck with your choice of two boring hills, er, mountains. I did find a small stash of stamps with 'roos on them in Victoria, but they're almost all gone now. So, please, Australia, get some decent stamps for tourists? The $1 stamps are only good for international postcards, so why not put something on it that would make foreigners want to visit the country? The Canberra hill is about as stunning as that big landfill with grass growing on it in San Jose - could you please make an effort and do some stamps with, say, Uluru or a similarly recognizable Australian icon on them?

Thank you.

I suddenly find myself amiss.

Uh, I meant to say that tonight, for the first time, I found myself missing my home. Watching a rilly bad American movie filmed in the San Fernando Valley, I realized that I haven't had a decent breakfast since I got to Australia. I could kill for a spinach mushroom 'n' cheese omelete with hash browns, Tabasco, ketchup, and white toast at the Mini Gourmet; I find I like Vegemite on toast but it just isn't the same at all. I also find that I miss the weather back home - today in Canberra felt like a spring day in San Jose, right down to the bright sunlight and passing clouds. The only thing missing was the smell of garlic floating down the valley from Gilroy.